Rooster by Alice In Chains to be Jerry Cantrell’s tribute come his Vietnam veteran dad, and also it showed a various kind the dark next to the band


Rooster by Alice In Chains might have come to be one the the band"s defining tracks, but its an interpretation was rooted in humble beginnings. When guitarist Jerry Cantrell found himself in the interim homeless at the begin of 1991, that turned come a fellow grunge legend for help. “I was between places to live at the time,” Cantrell recalls, “so I relocated in through chris Cornell and also his mam Susan silver at their house in Seattle. Susan was regulating Alice In chain at the time. I continued to be for a few weeks, increase in this small room.”

Alone, so late at night, Cantrell’s think kept transforming to his estranged father, whose emotional scars from his service in the Vietnam war had contributed to the malfunction of the household some years earlier. “That suffer in Vietnam adjusted him forever,” describes Cantrell, “and it definitely had an impact on our family, so i guess it was a defining moment in my life, too.

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“He didn’t walk the end on us. We left him. It to be an environment that wasn’t an excellent for anyone, so us took turn off to live v my grandmother in Washington, and also that’s whereby I saw school. Ns didn’t have actually a many my father around, however I began thinking around him a lot throughout that period.”


Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell that Alice In chains on stage in 1992 (Image credit: Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Sitting in former of a four-track recorder, the tune that poured the end of Cantrell can have to be laced through bitterness. Instead, that is harrowing lyrics were created from the standpoint that his father; explicate the ‘stinging sweat’ and also ‘mosquito death’ the a trek v the jungle, and also an imagine skirmish v the Vietcong.

The title"s definition was prompted by a nickname given to Cantrell Snr. By his great-grandfather: “Apparently he was a cocky little kid, and his hair provided to stick up on height of his head choose a rooster’s comb.”

“I definitely had resentments,” Cantrell notes, “as any type of young human does in a case where a parent isn’t roughly or a family members is split. Yet on Rooster, ns was trying come think about his next of that – what he could have unable to do through. To it is in honest, i didn’t really sit under intending come do any of that; it just kinda came out.

But that’s the an excellent thing around music – occasionally it can reach deeper than you ever before would in a conversation v anybody. It’s an ext of a forum to dig deeper.” Alice In chains had took pleasure in some success with their 1990 debut album Facelift and also its single Man In The Box, however Rooster was arguably the an initial song come announce the depth that the band’s talent.

Cantrell recalls the “it felt like a significant achievement because that me as a young writer,” and this sentiment was echoed as soon as he played the demo come vocalist Layne Staley, bassist Mike Starr and drummer Sean Kinney.

When it involved recording Rooster, the band turned a prior engagement to your advantage. “Cameron Crowe had currently come to us to ask for a song for his movie Singles,” recalls Cantrell. “So in the session that was intended for recording the one tune <Would?>, we finished up demoing around 10 songs, which had all the ingredient that finished up on the <1992> Sap EP, Rooster and a pair of others from Dirt.”

Rooster by Alice In Chains: the video

Rooster was taped at Eldorado Studios on LA’s Sunset Boulevard, i beg your pardon the tape co- produced with Dave Jerden. “It turned the end to be yes, really powerful,” note Cantrell, “and the way Layne sang on the is amazing.”

Similarly powerful was the video, in i beg your pardon director mark Pellington Jeremy> interspersed scene of Apocalypse Now-style brutality with an interview through Cantrell’s father.

“My father had never talked about that time in his life, and also was wake up to execute so if anyone ever asked,” recalls the guitarist, “So ns was amazed that he i agree to execute Mark’s request, for about an hour, on film.

“He was entirely cool, totally calm, welcomed it all and had a good time law it,” Cantrell included in the notes because that 1999’s Music Bank crate set. “It even brought him come the allude of tears. He claimed it was a monster experience, a sad experience and also he hoped that nobody else had actually to go v it.”

Released together a single in 1993. Rooster attracted immediate praise, both among followers the grunge and also further afield.

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“I’ve been all about the world,” explains Cantrell, “and I’ve speak to combat vets native Desert Storm and the current war in Iraq – and they have actually a deep affinity v that song. I simply recently got a letter native a guy in Iraq that told me his unit had adjusted their call sign come Rooster. Clearly it’s regrettably that guys still have to fight for political ends. But it’s cool that people affix with the song; for it come be component of them getting through.”

And however Rooster’s best triumph was ultimately a personal one. Versus all the odds, the track repaired the fractured relationship between father and son.

“When I first played it to my father,” recalls Cantrell, “I asked that if I’d obtained close to where he can have been emotionally or holy ghost in that situation. And he told me: ‘You acquired too near – girlfriend hit the on the head’. It meant a lot come him that I wrote it. It lugged us closer. The was good for me in the long-run and it was good for him, too.”